Alzheimer's Is Like a Box of Chocolates...

We can picture Forest Gump sitting on that park bench, saying to no one in particular, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The box of assorted candies is a mystery, to see what special filling you will get. Each piece of chocolate could be caramel-filled, chock full of nuts, or coconut, which were some of my favorites. When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, that box of gamble chocolates is more like a Jim Gaffigan bit, “Oh great! I got the one filled with toothpaste!”.

Forgetting her favorite candy bar

Alzheimer’s disease affects my mom mostly in her memory and her speech center. She has trouble word-finding, and she doesn’t remember what guacamole is.

She has also forgotten that her favorite candy is Ritter Sport in the red, square wrapper. It is dark chocolate with a marzipan filling (not toothpaste, but I’m still not a fan). We would buy it for her for every occasion, just because. She fell in love with it when we lived in Germany. It used to be hard to find here. It’s more available now, although I don’t always find that bright, red, square bar. I tried to explain her favorite candy to her. She doesn’t remember what marzipan is either. Once she ate a small square, Mom loved it and wanted us all to try it, whatever it was called. No Mom, it’s just for you. Smile.

Mom may not remember what guacamole is - though she was once a Tex Mex aficionado after years of living in Texas - but she still enjoys eating it. And she loves a bit of chocolate, especially dark chocolate. It’s supposed to be good for your brain, right? It has antioxidants. It’s practically health food. Wink.

Forgetting words

Mom gets frustrated by not remembering the words now then. We try to give her the time to come up with the word. I can sometimes see it forming on her lips, but she just can’t get it out. If she can’t come up with a word, I tell her to read the package. She will often describe the object she is trying to say, so we can guess.

At times I have to admit that I have no idea what she is talking about. She laughs, then starts again. I need a topic, something to get me started, then I can guess. Sometimes I give her clues, like what it starts with. She gets the victory of coming up with it. “That’s right,” she exclaims! It’s like a game of Password or $10,000 Pyramid!

Life is full of uncertainties, but it is sweet, even when we don’t get our favorites or forget what they are. Look for the good. The journey with Alzheimer’s disease is certainly full of sweet and bitter. I am glad I can go through it with Mom. My kids have grown closer to her and her to them. “I love you, Gramma!” “I love you, too!” Those are my favorites!

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